The Cincinnati Bengals didn’t just beat the Carolina Panthers. They beat them so bad they turned around and fired two defensive assistant coaches on Monday.
If that doesn’t tell you how the Bengals played on Sunday, nothing will. The Bengals moved to 5-4 after defeating the Panthers by a score of 42-21, in a game so lopsided, Cincinnati pulled Joe Burrow and the rest of the starters early in the fourth quarter. That doesn’t happen very often.
It wasn’t Burrow, though, who led the Bengals to victory. Burrow played very well, finishing the game having completed 22 of 28 passes for 206 yards and one touchdown for a rating of 109.2. Running back Joe Mixon put the Bengals on his back on Sunday. He ran the ball 22 times for 154 yards and FOUR touchdowns. He also had 58 receiving yards on four receptions for another touchdowns. That’s five.... count them.... five touchdowns, which set a new franchise record.
Here are just some things that went right.
A body in motion will stay in motion
This is the type of game Mixon needed. He struggled so far this season, averaging less than four yards per carry, and he had yet to have a 100-yard rushing game. He’s always been capable as he’s one of the most talented backs in the league, but things just weren’t coming together in 2022. That is until now.
Mixon was just unstoppable. He averaged a seven yards per carry, and just had his way with the Panthers defense all day long. It wasn’t just Mixon either. Samaje Perine averaged 8.5 yards per carry.
Obviously a ton of credit should go to......
Lining things up
The offensive line was absolutely dominant on Sunday. This was by far La’el Collins’ best game in stripes, both as a run and pass blocker. Alex Cappa also had an incredible game. They opened huge holes for their running backs and kept Burrow on his feet and in a clean pocket for the vast majority of the game.
Although the line gave up the 100th sack on Burrow since the beginning of the 2021 season on Sunday, it was the only sack they allowed.
The Panthers decided to start P.J. Walker over Baker Mayfield at quarterback, and they paid for it big time. Walker only completed three of 10 passing attempts for nine yards and threw two interceptions before he was benched at halftime. He earned a passer rating of 0.00.
Carolina came out in the second half with Mayfield behind center and scored 21 points in the second half. The Bengals win this game whether Walker or Mayfield took the snaps, but keeping Mayfield on the bench turned a loss into an embarrassing loss.
Resiliency is the name of the game
The Bengals defense came in the game on Sunday missing quite a few pieces. They had just lost starting corner Chidobe Awuzie to a season-ending injury. They also were without starting slot corner Mike Hilton and back up Tre Flowers. They started Eli Apple and rookie Cam Taylor-Britt on the outside and Jalen Davis as the slot corner, with Dax Hill coming in off the Bench. However, they lost Hill early in the game to injury. The front seven is also still without D.J. Reader, arguably the best nose tackle in the NFL.
With all these injuries, they still held the Panthers to 3.5 yards per carry and picked off two passes in the first half. Even though Mayfield scored 21 points in the second half, they were garbage time points, and the Bengals pulled all their starters and were playing backups.
This was an incredible defensive performance.
A look ahead....
The Bengals are now on their bye week and they only have two jobs.
- Get fully healthy
- Get fully healthy
To wrap things up, some random thoughts......
- So I said earlier that this was a great game for the offensive line. That’s true, except for left tackle Jonah Williams. Williams gave up the line’s only sack by just getting bull rushed completely by Brian Burns. Williams has given up more sacks (nine) than any other offensive lineman in the NFL.
- I loved the interception celebrations, especially the Remember the Titans tribute. I also loved Burrow taking pictures of Mixon in the end zone. It’s clear the Bengals are having fun.
- When the running game is working the way it was on Sunday, the entire offense opens up, and it would allow Burrow to put up MVP numbers.
- The defense has played well without Reader for the most part, but having him back after the bye would be great.
- This was trial by fire for Taylor-Britt. He gave up two catches on his three targets, one of which was for a touchdown. However, he also flashed at times. While it’s clear Awuzie will be missing, CTB (that’s what I’m calling him from now on) has potential to play well.
- It’s not common that a team gets to such a big lead that they get to pull their starters. It was cool to see some of the backups play.
- Mixon was completely unstoppable on Sunday. So was Perine. They couldn’t have played any better. Hopefully the run game is still up and running after the bye week.
- This was a very important win for a team who got embarrassed on Monday Night Football the week before by a division rival. It gives them a winning record at the halfway point of the season and it gives them something to build off of on their off week.
- One more win for a sweep of the NFC South.
- We may be witnessing the end of the Kevin Huber era in Cincinnati. The long-time Bengals punter and home-town hero has struggled so far this season, only averaging 37.4 yards per net punt. The Bengals have been warming up Drue Chrisman before the games. It wouldn’t be surprising if Chrisman was the team’s starting punter when they take the field in Pittsburgh in Week 11.
- It’s the bye week. Sit back and relax!